At only 28, Kimberly has been through more than most in their whole lives. She was diagnosed with a heart murmur at age 12, which was the beginning of a long journey. At 17, she remembers getting the diagnosis of HCM, or hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. She recalls, “The hospital was my second home.” She had to miss school for hospitalizations and procedures including getting a pacemaker. When she was just 21, she was told she had congestive heart failure (CHF), which prevented her from being the active person she once was. She had difficulty with things most of us take for granted, like going for a walk, because of feeling so out of breath and tired.
Kimberly admits it wasn’t easy and she did suffer from depression. After getting pregnant at 25, doctors told her that her heart was so weak, neither her nor her baby would survive. Unfortunately, although Kimberly made it through, her baby did not. As tragic as that was for her, she trudged on and soon after dealing with the death of her son, she was given a chance at a new life.
On March 1st, 2016, Kimberly got a heart transplant. While this new beginning for her was exciting, it has come with new challenges. She says that cardiac rehabilitation helped her regain her strength. She has since had to deal with some realities that come with the side effects of having a transplant and taking medications, including diabetes. She says that she’s dealing well with it though.
She finds support from her women’s group at WomenHeart and St. Luke’s Hospital in Houston, TX. They meet monthly with women like her also dealing with heart disease. She remembers finding strength after going to her first meeting and realizing that she wasn’t the only person dealing with these struggles.
“You don’t have to be bound by your disease.”
For those people out there dealing with heart disease or thinking about how they can improve their health, Kimberly says, “Take a breath. You have to accept what you’re dealing with, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. With the right support, we can overcome it. You don’t have to be bound by your disease.”
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